Cubs fall to Brewers in 10 innings
MILWAUKEE – For a moment, it looked as if Bryan LaHair’s pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning was going to power the Cubs to a comeback win and series victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Instead, the Cubs gave up the lead in the bottom half of the eighth – then were undone by Milwaukee’s Norichika Aoki, who led off the 10th inning with a home run off Casey Coleman to give Milwaukee a 4-3 victory Thursday.
The former Japanese batting champion entered the game with one homer, an inside-the-park homer on April 20, but hit a pair off the Cubs.
“To lose a ballgame because Aoki hit two home runs, that’s kind of the way things have been going obviously,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “You expect (Ryan) Braun or Corey Hart or someone else to hit two home runs.”
LaHair temporarily gave the Cubs the lead with a pinch-hit home run in the eighth and Koyie Hill added an RBI double for the Cubs.
Coleman (0-1) took the loss.
“He’d been locked-in this game, this series and really swinging the bat well,” Coleman said. “When you leave one up to a professional hitter, especially in a tight situation like that, they’re going to make you pay. That’s what happened. I’ll take the same approach if I face the guy again, just hopefully better execution.”
Cubs starter Matt Garza was impressed by Aoki.
“You just tip your cap and the next time you face him, you go right back in there and shove it down his throat,” Garza said.
Garza went six innings, giving up four hits and two runs with a walk and six strikeouts.
“It’s the same-old story for the most part,” Sveum said. “Getting great starts from our starters. They’re going six or seven, giving up one or two and coming away with a loss consistently.”
Corey Hart hit a game-tying RBI double in the eighth for the Brewers, who took two out of three games from their NL Central rivals.
John Axford (1-2) earned the win.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf gave up four hits and two walks, striking out six.
With the Cubs trailing 2-1 and two outs in the eighth, Alfonso Soriano singled. LaHair then pinch hit for Jeff Baker, and pounded a pitch from Francisco Rodriguez deep to right-center field to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. It was LaHair’s second career pinch-hit home run.
Aoki legged out an infield hit to start the bottom of the eighth, then went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Carlos Gomez.
Braun flew out, but Hart doubled to tie the game.
Aramis Ramirez, who has been out since Saturday with a left quadriceps strain, appeared as a pinch hitter but was walked intentionally. Pitcher Zack Greinke pinch ran for Ramirez but didn’t go anywhere, as Rickie Weeks struck out to end the inning.
Garza didn’t allow a hit until the fourth, when Aoki led off and hit a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right field to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
Aoki’s shot in the fourth inning was his second home run this season — but the first one that actually left the ballpark.
The Brewers had another chance in the fifth after Weeks reached base on a fielding error by first baseman Baker, Garza walked Cody Ransom, and Edwin Maysonet sacrificed the runners to second and third. But Wolf hit a sharp liner that was caught by second baseman Darwin Barney, and Aoki grounded out to end the inning.
Milwaukee added another run in the sixth, when Corey Hart hit a two-out double and George Kottaras drove him in with a single to put the Brewers up 2-0.
The Cubs had a chance in the seventh when Baker led off with a walk and Joe Mather reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Ransom.
Wolf got Ian Stewart to hit into a double play, but Hill hit an RBI double to cut the Brewers’ lead to 2-1.
Notes: Ryan Braun had a rare moment of frustration at the plate in the first inning. After lunging at a pitch to strike out and end the inning, Braun tossed his bat high in the air and slammed his helmet on the ground. ... A play that initially was ruled a fielding error on Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart later was changed to a base hit by Braun. ... Ransom’s error broke a nine-game errorless streak for the Brewers.
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